The Western Socialist
Vol. 31 - No. 238
No. 2, 1964
From a Winnipeg high school student comes a thoughtful letter showing that today's youngsters are not all afflicted by Beatlemania. He asks a number of questions to which we have sent answers. With the thought that these may be of interest to other readers they are reproduced below.
Do we believe there have been wars in history caused by ambitious rulers or a bellicose people?
Many rulers have been known to be ambitious and to strut importantly. In this century Wilhelm of Germany and Mussolini of Italy are among those said to have been of this kind. But while their ambitions may have hastened certain events, they did not cause the events. Wilhelm's ambitions did not cause the 1914-18 war, nor would Mussolini's troops have gone to war, had there not been ruling class interests at stake. The ruling class, today as always, make use of demagogues and demigods to carry out their wishes, and these people are allowed to strut so long as they do not strut too far from their prescribed course.
Concerning the last part of this question, one might ask, why do people become bellicose? It doesn't take a very close scrutiny to show that in the last two major wars the German people became bellicose in line with German ruling class interests and that the British people became bellicose in line with British ruling class interests. There are no instances of a mass attitude reflecting the interests of an outside ruling class, which obviously indicates that people are steered into their attitude by the propagandist efforts of their native rulers. It has been said that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, described at the time by U. S. President Roosevelt as a "stab in the back," was in fact nothing of the kind, but that the Japanese intention to attack was known in Washington which permitted the Pearl Harbor tragedy as a means of enraging the U. S. populace. Whether this claim is true may never be known for certain, but it is certain that Pearl Harbor was the greatest single factor in rousing American belligerency towards Japan and Germany. It is also true that the Eskimos of the north, free from ruling class propaganda, have been indifferent to all of Canada's wars.
Is it not true that children who have not had any formal (capitalist) education are more cruel to each other than adults who have had this education?
We cannot say that this is true; what we can say is that the problem of child behaviour, if there is such a problem, will in a sane society be free from the class-tainted treatment that all problems receive today. The kind of cruelty, however, that Socialists are concerned about is the kind that is social in origin. the kind that humiliates, enslaves, tortures and brings about the periodic slaughter of millions, the kind that at best condemns the mass of people to an uncertain and insecure existence. Socialism will end this kind of cruelty.
THE HANDICAPPED UNDER SOCIALISM
How would invalids, disabled people and others unable to work be treated under Socialism?
With the machinery of production existing now it is possible to provide for all humanity in comfort and security. Today's wealth producers keep an able-bodied parasite class in luxury and idleness and also provide for vast sales forces, armed services, munition makers, clergy and others who contribute nothing of benefit to society. Under Socialism these people will become engaged in useful services. But the Socialist principle, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs," will apply to everyone; and those who cannot work will have the same right of access to wealth as those who do work. Society will in fact be happy in the knowledge that this can at last be assured.
SOCIALISTS AND ATHEISTS
Are socialists atheists or agnostics? Do we believe the statement "God does not exist" can be proven?
Socialists are often regarded as atheists because some of their views on religion are shared by atheists. But the atheist looks upon religion as the source of the basic ailments in society and he believes these will end if man gives up religion. The socialist regards capitalism as the source of modern ailments and says these can be ended only with the ending of capitalism. The atheist has not yet learned that religion is a tool preserved and used by the ruling class to help keep the workers resigned to the iniquities of capitalism.
We would not undertake to prove that God does not exist. On the contrary we affirm that there is not just one god, there are many and they have a very real existence; we would not otherwise be able to talk about them. They exist in the minds of men, the result of wrong interpretations of the world and its phenomena. The gods will cease to exist when the mind of man becomes liberated from ignorance and enslavement.